Kan. lawmakers condemn Holocaust comparisons to vaccine mandates

Photos show the ever-changing mood of the Kansas Statehouse in downtown Topeka.
Photos show the ever-changing mood of the Kansas Statehouse in downtown Topeka.(Phil Anderson)
Published: Nov. 12, 2021 at 11:18 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Kansas Governor Laura Kelly and state lawmakers from both sides of the aisle condemned comparisons of COVID-19 vaccine mandates to the Holocaust. Responses that included strong rejections from Kansas Republican leaders came Friday after a small group attended a Special Committee on Government Overreach hearing, wearing yellow stars on their chests.

The hearing concerned bills set to be considered during a Nov. 22 special legislative session. Two proposals in response to the federal vaccine mandate include allowing Kansans to get unemployment insurance if they’re fired for not complying with vaccine mandates and requiring employers to grant religious exemptions for anyone who claims it, without question.

Business groups, and individuals from the public testified at Friday’s hearing. Among the individuals who weighed in was one of the three people wearing a gold star.

Topeka Capital Journal state government reporter Andrew Bahl reported that Kansas City, Kan. resident, Daran Duffy said the yellow star wasn’t meant to be offensive nor controversial, but is a “reminder” that Hitler followed the laws of his country in Nazi Germany.

Senate President Ty Masterson and Speaker of the House Ron Ryckman were among state lawmakers who posted statements on social media, publicly rejecting the Holocaust and vaccine mandate comparison after Friday’s hearing.

“Senate Republicans reject, in the strongest possible terms, any analogies to the Holocaust. Such comparisons are inappropriate and bear no resemblance to the issues we are debating today,” Masterson wrote.

Ryckman called Holocaust analogies used in discussions on vaccine mandates “disappointing.”

“Let me be clear: the issues being debated today are important to KS, but they are in no way comparable to what millions of Jews endured who were ripped from their families, & marked for death by the Nazis,” Ryckman wrote.

Governor Kelly indicated the association is Anti-Semitic.

“I condemn these profoundly offensive statements that are an insult to those who died in the Holocaust. Antisemitism has no place in Kansas,” Kelly wrote.

Friday’s hearing was not the first time tightened guidelines or mandates related to COVID-19 have brought on comparisons to the Holocaust.

Last summer, the Kansas GOP responded after a Republican county chairman posted a cartoon on social media that compared Kelly’s mask mandate with the Holocaust.

Last month, a reported comparison of President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates and the Holocaust drew attention at another hearing in Topeka as a legislative committee launched an effort to find ways for the state to push back against the president’s policies.

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